UBER CEO Argues with Driver over Reduced Fares

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued an apology after video surfaced of him getting into an argument with one of his drivers over the falling fares. In the video, Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick can be seen early February Super Bowl Sunday using a black car, a high-end service Uber introduced in 2010.

Travis Kalanick and Fawzi Kamel conversation:

Kamel: “I don’t know if you remember me, but it’s fine,” Kamel says. The pair begin talking shop, and Kalanick explains that they’re going to cut down on the number of black cars, which will reduce competition and should be good for Kamel.

Then Kamel says what every driver has been dying to tell Kalanick: “You’re raising the standards, and you’re dropping the prices.”

Kalanick: “We’re not dropping the prices on black.”

Kamel: “But in general the whole price is—”

Kalanick: “We have to; we have competitors; otherwise, we’d go out of business.”

Kamel: “Competitors? Man, you had the business model in your hands. You could have the prices you want, but you choose to buy everybody a ride.”

Kalanick: “No, no no. You misunderstand me. We started high-end. We didn’t go low-end because we wanted to. We went low-end because we had to because we’d be out of business.”

Kamel: “What? Lyft? It’s a piece of cake right there.”

Kalanick: “It seems like a piece of cake because I’ve beaten them. But if I didn’t do the things I did, we would have been beaten, I promise.”

The two bat that idea around, and Kamel brings the conversation back to his losses.

Kamel: “But people are not trusting you anymore. … I lost $97,000 because of you. I’m bankrupt because of you. Yes, yes, yes. You keep changing every day. You keep changing every day.”

Kalanick: “Hold on a second, what have I changed about Black? What have I changed?”

Kamel: “You changed the whole business. You dropped the prices.”

Kalanick: “On black?”

Kamel: “Yes, you did.”

Kalanick begins to lose his temper. “Bullshit,” he says.

Kamel: “We started with $20.”

Kalanick: “Bullshit.”

Kamel: “We started with $20. How much is the mile now, $2.75?”

Kalanick: “You know what?”

Kamel: “What?”

Kalanick: “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”

Kamel: “Good luck to you, but I know [you’re not] going to go far.”

In an email to staff Tuesday after publication of this story, Kalanick apologized to Kamel for treating him disrespectfully.

“To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement,” Kalanick wrote. “My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away. It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”

As for his rating, Kamel gave Kalanick 1-Star.